Focus on a Freebie - October

Each month I shine the spotlight on one of my FREE products over on Teachers pay Teachers - an awesome spot for free teaching resources. 

This month it's my Cause and Effect Worksheet.

Understanding cause and effect can be tricky for young minds but I've found this graphic organiser useful as a visual tool to unpacking the concept.

I always start with a physical activity to demonstrate how cause and effect works e.g. 

T: If I drop this pen, what will happen?
S: It will fall on the ground.
T: What is the cause (the reason) for it falling on the ground?
S: You dropped the pen.
T: So the cause is 'I dropped the pen' and the effect is 'it fell to the ground'. 

I then go over several other scenarios with students (this is also fun to brainstorm) and the sort of suggestions they come up with are:

Cause: Dropped banana skin on the ground.
Effect: Somebody fell over.

Cause: My alarm didn't go off this morning.
Effect: I was late to school.

Cause: I didn't eat breakfast this morning.
Effect: I couldn't concentrate in class.

It's also a good sneaky way to introduce other 'need to talk about topics' such as keeping clean, being on time, not talking in class etc.. you get the idea!

I do not move to subject specific cause and effect until I am 100% sure they understand the basic concept of cause verses effect and how they are interconnected. So sometimes it's good to move on to other examples which have several causes or several effects.

I have noticed, once you move into subject specific aspects of cause and effect, students can get lost in the concept very quickly - so move slowly and keep returning to the concrete materials (dropping pens, falling over etc.. )

This graphic organiser is simple yet effective and I used it from Year 3s (drawing their responses in) through to Year 6s (in the study of Australian History).

Download the PDF document here to print from and please leave a four star rating if you enjoyed it.

Reading Group Accessories for the Early Years classroom

At Halloween the shops are filled with the most excitingly spooky accessories and recently I spotted these great little party favours at Target (Australia) for only $2. Immediately I could think of a fun classroom use for these little guys - Reading Groups! Stick with will all become clear...

My Preps are getting better at sounding out when reading aloud but often they lose focus and disengage with the same old reading accessories

I have reading wands, plastic glasses with the lens removed, soft toys to read to and even whisper phones (click to see my previous blog post on how to make these).

However, it's always fun when you can bring a new accessory into Reading Groups to hold their interest.

These little plastic pointed nails make perfect finger points for students to use when practising the Lips the Fish reading strategy (make the initial sound by pointing to the first letter/s), Stretchy Snake strategy (run the finger along the word to stretch out the word) and are even long enough to be used with Chunky Monkey strategy (cover up part of the word to chunk it down).


Another useful tool to use during Reading Groups is a set of Emergent Reader Cards such as these.

I would print, laminate then use a ring binder to hold these together and place them in the middle of the Reading Group table. As we undertook Reading Groups I would flip these over and explore the questions to prompt students to think before reading, during reading and after reading. These proved very useful in keeping little minds engaged as they are bright and colourful. Once your groups are up and running you can even assign a 'Flipper' whose job it is to initiate discussion using the flip cards.

These cards are available for instant download here.

Finding free teaching resources online

How do you find good FREE teaching resources online?

There are hundreds of teaching resources online but how do you separate the good from the bad or the free from the paid?

How many times do you see a great teaching worksheet online that reinforces the concept you have just been teaching.. hurray! Then you follow the links and it turns out it's paid after all.. boo hiss!

There are several useful ways to check that a product is:
a) free
b) tried and tested (i.e. is going to be useful)

I highly recommend one website for downloading free teaching resources - Teachers Pay Teachers is free to join and there are thousands of free resources.

Firstly, go the and scroll down the page to see the Free resources button.

As soon as you do this you will see all the free downloads available right now on TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers) and if you're not familiar with TpT this is where you'll probably get a pleasant surprise at just now many downloads are completely free.

Now you can use the search function to search by key words, subjects or grades.

But how can you tell if these products are any good I hear you ask?

TpT has a great way of letting teachers know what works and what doesn't.. the rating system.

A rating of 4 can be given by anybody who downloads the resources and even written feedback can be given. This way you can see clearly how other teachers have used it and if it was useful.

When you've downloaded, don't forget to give the seller feedback. A rating of 4 out of 4 means you really enjoyed the free product and will encourage the seller to provide more freebies!

Lastly, I know my fellow Aussie teachers (and New Zealanders) are saying 'Yes but TpT is mostly for American teachers, there is nothing much for us!' - WRONG. Over 12 months ago that might have been the case but there are hundreds of Aussie teachers on TpT and their resources are often tightly aligned to the national curriculum for Australia and New Zealand. Just to prove how many fantastic freebies there are I've asked my fellow Aussie and NZ teaching pals to list some of their freebies below in the comments section. 

You can also find TechTeacherPto3's freebies here.

Halloween - Spooky Maths and English fun!

Halloween is an unusual celebration, what with all the monsters, vampires and zombies! However, it is a seasonal shift and a lead up to other seasonal celebrations such as Christmas and New Year and introducing it into the classroom is a fun way to engage students.

Perhaps your students don't celebrate Halloween very much but I can guarantee you they will have seen the decorations around stores and homes by now. October is Halloween month and there is NO escaping it!

Living in Australia, I notice Halloween isn't celebrated in the classroom as much as it is in the US and the UK/Ireland (where I previously lived). However, I still like to bring activities into the classroom that are seasonal because they prompt discussions with young students about how we mark the changing of the seasons and how different people celebrate and quite frankly IT'S FUN! I will take ANY opportunity to bring in fresh material to engage those tired little kids.

Take my Halloween Maths Problem Solving pack. My students are already well versed in some basic maths problem solving, especial using the Part Part Whole Strategy (click to view my most popular maths product - the Part Part Whole Maths Pack) so they know how to use part part whole. However, maths problem solving can become repetitive if you don't bring some fresh maths problems to the table.

These Halloween problems include non-scary Halloween pictures with two types of part, part whole problems. Draw/write it out or cut and paste. My students especially loved the cut and paste ones as you can see below.

If you'd like to try a Halloween Part Part Whole sheet for free click this link for a free sample page in the Halloween Maths Problem Solving Part Part Whole Worksheet.

As well as introducing seasonal themed Maths resources I really enjoy bringing some craft into the classroom which encourages writing! Anything to keep them engaged, reading and writing really! 
This year I've brought the Halloween Literacy Pack into the class for the students to play with and they have had great fun through.. 

Making sentences.

Making fun flip books

Making fun Halloween treats in the classroom and using the sequencing cut and paste to go over our method used.

Playing Sight Word Bingo with our pumpkin pieces.

There is just so much jam packed into this little goody-bag of Halloween literacy fun.

Update: take a look at how I've used these fun Halloween party favours in my Reading Groups!

Happy Halloween!